Ashore in Argentina

We were up bright and early this morning, dressed and packed up and along to breakfast before getting our hand-luggage (our cases had already been collected from outside our door in the early hours of the morning) and going along to the Globe lounge to await our call to disembark.

Then down the gangplank we went and onto the buses which were waiting to take us to the ferry terminal.  We had about an hour to wait in the terminal, so we had a bottle of cold mineral water each and just whiled away the time people-watching and waiting and reading my Kindle and playing on my Nintendo DS.

Eventually we saw the ferry come in and a massive queue formed at the door, even though the incoming passengers still had to disembark and the call had not yet been made to board.  When the ferry was eventually ready for boarding, another set of doors opened and Trevor and I just went through them and down the ramp to the ferry, completely bypassing the huge queue, ha ha.   🙂

The ferry company had allocated an area of the vessel especially for Arcadia passengers, where we were met with a ‘champagne’ reception and shown to our spacious seats.  They were a bit like business class seats on a plane.

The three-hour journey to Buenos Aires passed pleasantly enough.  The staff on the ferry were quite attentive and came round with snacks, some sickly-sweet cakes and other nibbles (but no champers refills).  After about an hour they gave out luncheon vouchers which allowed us to go to the buffet downstairs and choose a sandwich or wrap, a snack and tea, coffee and mineral water.  The sandwiches were large baguettes and very tasty.  We sat next to a little old lady who kept pronouncing Buenos Aires as “Bew-nos Airs” and didn’t seem to want to be put right.   🙂

Eventually we could see the skyline of Buenos Aires approaching and we watched the ferry come in to dock.  Once we disembarked there were some buses waiting for us, to take us to the Pulizer Hotel.  Last time we were here (in January 2006) we stayed at the Sheraton for three nights, so we wondered what the Pulizer would be like as they’d had to accommodate us all at relatively short notice.

Buenos Aires is a fascinating city and we felt sorry for those on the coach who hadn’t been before, as they were going to explore in all overnight.  Our guide took us on an impromptu city tour where we passed the massive Avenida 9 de Julio which has about 10 lanes and is the widest avenue in the world.  It is named after Argentina’s independence day, 9th July 1816.  We also passed the famous River Plate Stadium in the distance, venue of the 1978 World Cup games; the guide couldn’t resist mentioning, to a bus full of Brits, about Diego Maradona and the infamous “hand of God”.   🙂

The guide also pointed out the Cenotaph to the fallen in the 1982 Falklands Conflict, dedicated to those who lost their lives over “Las Malvinas” as they are known in Argentina. We had visited this monument last time we were here and we could see the Sheraton hotel nearby.

At around 4.00pm the bus pulled up outside the Hotel Pulitzer, set on a lively main road in the city centre, amongst lots of shops and bars.  We got off the bus and joined the queue for checking in, but as the rooms weren’t quite ready and we had to wait to have our cases delivered to our room, we decided to pay a visit to the hotel bar for a welcome cold beer.   🙂

The bar was on the second floor and was nicely decorated in a black and white theme, and had a sunken area with settees, chairs and coffee tables, as well as a huge plate-glass window giving a good view of the busy streets.  We each ordered a Quilmes, the local lager, and enjoyed a dish of nuts with it.  We didn’t want to eat a meal yet as we were due to go out to a all-you-can-eat Argentinian buffet at a restaurant later on, so we decided to save ourselves for that.

Once we were allowed to check into our room, which was spacious and well-equipped with a nice large bathroom, we dumped our stuff, had a quick wash and brush up, then decided to go out and explore the nearby shops.  There were, of course, loads of shops selling fine leather goods and we had a good browse around in case I saw anything that really took my fancy.

We also passed a liquor store and noticed that they sold cachaça (even though it’s a Brazilian spirit); it was the well-known “51” brand and was cheap at 10 quid for a litre bottle, but not as cheap as the two quid we’d paid in Recife for some Pitú.  Nevertheless we bought it, as it would be our last chance.

We then went along to a little café and had another cold beer each, before strolling back to the hotel to get ready for our trip out to dinner.

Once again on the bus the guide pointed out various interesting sights on our way to the restaurant.  When we arrived, the bar and dining area were doing a lively trade.  We took our seats and another very pleasant couple joined us, and we ordered a bottle of good Argentinian red wine, from the famous wine-producing area of Mendoza.

The selection of foods in the buffet was fantastic.  There was a huge array of hot and cold meats and you could have a great big Argie steak cooked to your liking while you waited.  There were also many types of vegetables and fish, some marinated in spices and char-grilled, others served with different sauces.  It was all unusual and very tasty, and it was difficult not to pile your plate too high and look like a greedy so-and-so.  Better to visit the buffet two or three times and fill a smaller plate.  😉

The post-prandial coffee was very strong, a bit like espresso, and was a bit of an acquired taste.  But it had been an absolutely excellent meal in good company.

Back at the Hotel Pulizer we decided to join the other couple at the open-air rooftop bar. The night was warm and balmy and we had fabulous views of the neon-lit city.  I enjoyed a couple of large caipirinhas (!!!) and, once again, it was after midnight before we went to bed.  This time tomorrow night we’d be on the long-haul British Airways flight home.   😦

 

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